Prota 11(1): Medicinal plants/Plantes médicinales 1
Journ. Linn. Soc., Bot. 16: 22 (1877).
Lomatophyllum lomatophylloides (Balf.f.) Marais (1975).
Ananas marron (Fr).
Origin and geographic distribution
Aloe lomatophylloides is endemic to Rodrigues (Republic of Mauritius), where it is restricted to the Grande Montagne Reserve, but was formerly widespread.
The crushed leaves of Aloe lomatophylloides are applied as a poultice to relieve muscle pain. A decoction of the leaves is taken to increase the menstrual flow. The plant is widely grown as an ornamental.
All Aloe spp. in the section Lomatophyllum, to which Aloe lomatophylloides belongs, have a common phytochemical profile and contain flavones, anthrones and chromones. In Aloe lomatophylloides the flavone isovitexin (apigenin 6-C-glucoside) occurs together with the anthrone aloin.
Succulent herb up to 40 cm tall; stem short, decumbent, unbranched. Leaves in a lax rosette, erect to spreading; stipules absent; petiole absent; blade lanceolate, up to 75 cm × 8 cm, apex attenuate, margin with short deltoid teeth, 5–15 mm apart. Inflorescence consisting of few cylindrical racemes, 15–20 cm long, lax, with acuminate apex; peduncle up to 12 cm long, with 2–3 branches; bracts lanceolate, up to 4 mm long. Flowers bisexual, regular, 3-merous; pedicel c. 2 cm long; perianth tubular, 1.5–2 cm long, lobes 6, free to base, pale reddish orange; stamens 6, exserted; ovary superior, 3-celled, style filiform, stigma head-shaped, exserted. Fruit a berry 15–20 mm long, many-seeded. Seeds c. 3 mm long.
Aloe comprises about 450 species in Africa and Arabia, of which c. 315 occur in mainland Africa, c. 100 are endemic to Madagascar or the Indian Ocean islands (including the former Lomatophyllum) and c. 50 occur in Arabia. Based on genome size, the species of Aloe in the section Lomatophyllum are not closely related to the other Aloe species of the Indian Ocean Islands. Therefore, and because of the difference in fruits (berries versus capsules) some authors maintain 2 separate genera.
Another Aloe species endemic to Mauritius and with medicinal uses is Aloe purpurea Lam. (synonym: Lomatophyllum purpureum (Lam.) T.Durand & Schinz). Its leaf sap is applied to the nipples to wean children. The leaves contain the flavone isovitexin and its aglucon apigenin, the anthrone homonataloin, and the chromone aloeresin A. The leaf sap of Aloe mayottensis A.Berger , endemic to Mayotte, is applied as eye drops to cure conjunctivitis, and to nipples to wean children. A poultice of the leaves is used to treat wounds and burns.
There is no information on the ecological requirements of Aloe lomatophylloides, but probably it occurs on open, dry localities.
All Aloe species used as medicine in Mauritius are collected from the wild.
Genetic resources and breeding
Harvesting from the wild for medicinal and ornamental uses and habitat destruction have devastated the population of Aloe lomatophylloides. Whereas it was common in the 19th century, its natural range is now restricted to a single reserve on Rodrigues where just 30 plants remain. It is however widely planted in botanical gardens and is grown widely as an ornamental and is therefore not immediately threatened with extinction. All Aloe species with the exception of Aloe vera are listed by CITES.
The Aloe species from Mauritius have not been the subject of systematic ethnobotanical research, and little has been published. Proper protection of the remaining plants seems in place and cultivation will take the pressure off wild populations.
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Correct citation of this article:
Bosch, C.H., 2006. Aloe lomatophylloides Balf.f. In: Schmelzer, G.H. & Gurib-Fakim, A. (Editors). Prota 11(1): Medicinal plants/Plantes médicinales 1. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.